Dealing with Anxiety
March 3, 2020
“I am in serious trouble”. The results of a Marketing Campaign I had executed for the business was showing a Cost overrun of 600%+, consuming the entire Marketing cost budget for the year. I had made a serious mistake on some assumptions.
What will happen when this news goes up the chain and my boss realizes that there is no more money to spend for the next 6 months.
I was paralyzed with anxiety. How do I come out of this problem.
No problem is ever solved by worrying. I solve a problem when I think rationally, and take some positive action. So, I had to get out of my anxiety mode.
First, I analysed my worry. Why am I panicking ? What am I worried about?
I asked myself what is the worst that can happen? I am sacked for the error.
What can I do about it. I had 3 choices in front of me.
- I don’t speak about this. It will come out on its own- I will be hauled up for the error and also for not reporting the issue. I will probably be sacked for gross negligence.
- I can try and manipulate the data and make the numbers look less worse- This is a non choice. Goes against my values.
- I can be the one to let my boss know- My boss will be upset. I will lose his confidence. There will be a serious repercussion. I could still be sacked. At least my honor is intact.
The way I framed this , it was clear for me, the most honorable choice was to report the issue on my own. Once I arrived at the clear definitive decision, half of my worry vanished. The moment, I took the action to inform my boss about the mishap, the other 50% of the worry also vanished.
The anxiety I was harboring was misplaced. All that happened was that I was admonished for the error. Life moved on and I had an experience under my belt.
All of us encounter situations that cause anxiety or fear. Worry destroys our ability to focus and concentrate. We lose the power of decision making when struck with fear.
The technique I used to deal with my situation was something I picked up from a book by Dale Carnegie “How to stop worrying and start living”
In this Book Dale Carnegie postulates a process that has always worked for me when dealing with any issues that is causing me anxiety or fear.
Ask yourself these 2 questions.
- What am I worried about?
Analyse the source of your worry and describe it in precise detail. Being vague about what is worrying you makes the problem worse. It is very useful to pin the problem down to what exactly one is worried about.
- What can I do about it?
Write down at least 3 courses of action you can take. Detail the choices and all possible consequences or outcomes for each of the choice. Decide which of the choices has the highest probability of a positive outcome. Just go ahead and execute that.
Anxiety in the present moment stems from fears of yesterday or worries of tomorrow. Instead of allowing anxiety to fester and pull us down, we can to follow this simple process of asking ourselves the 2 quetions.
What am I worried about?
What can I do about it?